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Holder’s DoJ Must Focus on Real Criminals Now

1:57 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Attorney General Eric Holder (photo: USDAgov/flickr)

Bank looters, pension stealers, and widow robbers run rampant through our Republic, so one hopes Eric Holder’s Justice Department will now focus its attention on the real crimes ruining America. They aren’t committed by baseball players lying to Congresscoals to Newcastle if ever I heard of it! — or heiresses paying hush money to a Presidential candidate’s mistress.

These aren’t crimes; they are E! Entertainment News and Entertainment Tonight! fodder, not crimes worthy of federal resources ladled upon them in the millions of dollars. Enough with the circuses!

Utter lawlessness abounds throughout the land — in voter disenfranchisement, mortgage securitization and foreclosure fraud, depradation of our precious natural world, and utter bribery of public officials by faceless forces of wealth.

Will Eric Holder please direct the efforts of his many attorneys to real problems plaguing real American people, and leave off these spashy — but ultimately ridiculously unsuccessful — show trials that get his media audience all het up? Just because Diane Sawyer decides to whine regularly about gthe utter immorality of John Edwards and the tribulations of his loyal daughter Cate during his trial is no reason to pursue an absurd lawsuit whose parameters have been totally eclipsed by the Citizens United case your same DoJ lost not long ago, Mr Attorney General. You should know, and your subordinates should know, that something’s seriously wrong with a prosecution that elects not to indict — or even call to the stand! — the primary actor in the drama, on the grounds that she’s rich and old.

To the American people, this trial looked like a president directing his Justice Department’s resources at a pesky opponent who talked about inconvenient issues — and one without a political future, at that. An utter waste of time, with a predictable and futile outcome to boot.

Getting your name on the Evening News isn’t your job, sir — putting actual bad guys in jail is.

And lying to Congress? Sir, just because a baseball hero with clay feet elects to emulate your penultimate predecessor (whom you’ve let walk free without a scratch!) is no reason to insert yourself and your department into the business of America’s native criminal class. Not telling them the truth is, well, sauce for the gander, isn’t it?

Get busy, Holder. There’s lots of real lawyering to do on behalf of the American people. And I bet if Barack Obama wanted to, he could find no end of volunteers to do the job you and your subordinates are clearly not cut out to do.

DADT Report: Open Service Will Have Little Lasting Impact

10:04 am in Executive Branch, Government, Legislature, LGBT, Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Today’s exciting release of the long-awaited Pentagon report for the Secretary of Defense on the effects of repealing Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell will say that allowing gay and lesbian military servicemembers to serve openly

would have little lasting impact on the U.S. armed forces, a major Pentagon review has found, several sources familiar with the results told CNN Tuesday.

Putting an end to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” would have “some limited and isolated disruption to unit cohesion and retention,” the year-long study found, but the effects would not be long-lasting or widespread.

Results of polling the military reflect America’s stance on DADT repeal:

Overall opposition throughout the military was about 30 percent — roughly the same as it is in America as a whole, according to recent findings from CNN/Opinion Research and the Pew Forum.

There are places where some early trouble might be expected.

There will be some strong minority opposition, particularly in the Marines and some combat arms specialist units, said the chairs of the study, Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham.

As many as 40 to 60 percent of troops in those units were against changing the 17-year-old policy that lets gay and lesbian troops serve as long as their sexual orientation is secret.

The survey is one of the most extensive ever conducted, and completes a nine-month process commissioned by the President for his Secretary of Defense:

Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham will face intense scrutiny this week from lawmakers and advocates for and against ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which bans gays from openly serving in uniform. The future of the ban rests largely with 10 moderate senators who want to read the report before voting on a defense policy bill that would end it.

Johnson and Ham led a 66-person review team that met with gay rights leaders, social conservatives, military chaplains, service members discharged under the policy, the same-sex partners of closeted gay troops and gay veterans. Hundreds of thousands of troops and spouses also provided feedback through written surveys, an online dropbox and town hall meetings at bases around the world.

Finally, a report from AmericaBlog’s Joe Sudbay from a conference call organized by a major advocate of DADT repeal, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

Just got off a conference call organized by SLDN. The call was billed as a preview of the week ahead “to discuss repealing DADT in the Senate’s lame-duck session, the release of the Comprehensive Working Group Report and the U.S. Senate hearings this week.” It gave a good overview of what we can expect moving forward. I tried to capture the highlights.

SLDN’s Aubrey Sarvis began the call by saying, “I think we’re going to see a very historic day unfold before us.” He reported that briefers from the Pentagon were on the Hill this morning to brief Senators and staffers for Armed Services Committee on the report. Aubrey noted that the Executive Summary will be released at 1 pm with a Press Briefing at 2 PM.

Aubrey also said,”We think that this report will be overwhelmingly positive and very constructive.” And, he added, “It will be one of the best tools that repeal advocates can use in the lame duck session.”

“Historic” and “helpful” were the operative words.

Under What COLA Formula Does Congress Earn a Raise While Our Most Needy Don’t?

8:45 am in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Hurray for Congress for turning down their cost-of-living-adjustment-warranted raise this week. Under what formula does Congress merit a COLA when Social Security recipients’ payments are flat for two years?

Under the law that governs congressional pay, senators and representatives were due to get an automatic cost of living increase on January 1, probably an extra $1,600 or 0.9 percent, unless they voted beforehand to turn it down.

And yet America’s elderly, disabled, and surviving children were told that there was not enough of an increase in the cost of living to warrant a COLA bump for them in 2010.

Here’s Robert Seigel and Scott Horsley’s discussion of the Social Security COLA last fall on NPR:

SCOTT HORSLEY: Well, Robert, it’s pretty simple. Seniors and others who collect Social Security are not getting a cost of living increase because the cost of living has not increased. In fact, according to…

SIEGEL: It decreased.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HORSLEY: That’s right. According to the Labor Department’s calculations, it went down about two percent in the last year. One could argue, therefore, seniors – even if their checks stayed the same – will have more buying power than they have in the past. But that’s not good enough for the White House, and so they want to send a one-time check to all the people who get Social Security and veterans’ benefits of $250 some time next year. They point out that other parts of the stimulus package extend into next year. And so, in a way, this is just putting seniors on the same plane as workers.

A Texas paper explains the lack of COLA adjustment for our most needy Americans, those who qualify for federal assistance through Social Security:

For the first year since annual automatic cost of living adjustments (COLA) were established for Social Security and supplemental security income in 1975, Social Security payments remained flat.

Raises in Social Security and SSI are attached to inflation. To determine the adjustment, the third quarter inflation rate is compared to the one the year before. Consumer prices determine the inflation rate. In 2009, the rate fell 2.1 percent in the third quarter, compared to 2008.

“By law, the Department of Labor uses the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, and by law it’s used to calculate Social Security payments,” said Aurora Lopez with the Dallas regional public affairs office for the Social Security Administration.

Is there a special Elected Official Consumer Price Index? Or a Village Price Index that supercedes the one used for Social Security? This is simply another example of elites treating themselves differently than those who elect them.

So: Hurray for turning it down, Congress! But explain, please, the corruption that earns you a COLA while the most needy Americans do not.

It’s nice you are not taking it, but why were you offered it at all?

Robert Wexler’s Letter to Supporters

11:51 am in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Florida Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler sent this email to supporters early this morning:

Dear Teddy,

Today, with both sadness and excitement, I announced that I am leaving Congress in January to accept the position of President of the Center for Middle East Peace, a non-profit institute devoted to achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East

This decision was not easy: I love my job and my devoted staff, and have a long, close relationship with my constituents – many of whom I’ve served for nearly 20 years.

Throughout my 13 years in Congress, I sought to be an advocate for democratic values and provide a voice to vitally important progressive causes. Whether it was working to end the use of torture by the Bush Administration, fighting for a legitimate vote during election 2000, successfully pushing for a voter verified paper trail in Florida, or our shared quest for genuine accountability these last few years – I’m proud of the stands I’ve taken. I am even prouder to have had you standing with me.

Those who have followed my career know that in addition to the progressive causes I have championed, one of my overriding passions has been my work on the Foreign Affairs Committee helping to ensure the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel, and promoting a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and the Arab world.

While I regret that I will be unable to complete my current term in office, I truly believe we are at a unique and critically tense moment in the history of the Middle East and decisions made today will shape the world for years to come. There is no time to waste.

The work on issues of accountability did not start with me, nor will it end with me leaving office. This movement has always been driven by you – and your support for the vital causes we have worked on together.

One of the great lessons I learned in my time in Congress I learned from you – and it is this:
If you stand up for and defend the constitution and rule of law, you will gain the support of hundreds of thousands of citizens across the country.

Thank you for having being part of my team and, most especially, for being brave American patriots.

With warm regards,

Congressman Robert Wexler

McCaskill: ‘Keep our powder dry’

9:14 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

I guess we need to get to 80 in the Senate to get anything done, since that 60th vote seems elusive.

Are deals like the one that New Hampshire’s Governor Lynch and Senator Judd Gregg seem to have made even legal?

Congress Self-Neuters, Again

1:24 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Pretending to dole out Hot Hank Paulson’s $700,000,000,000 on the installment plan, Congress continued its swift march into irrelevance. By ceding control over the second and third bailout installments to the President unless Congress acts in a joint resolution subject to veto and thus requiring a two-thirds vote, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi added more laurels to the Crown of the Unitary Executive.

The full $700 billion is authorized, but the money will be parsed out in a series of installments that give Paulson a relatively free hand in accessing the first $350 billion. The White House must notify Congress when Treasury wants the second half, and lawmakers would then have 15 days in which to cut off funds. But this must be done in the form of a joint resolution, subject to a veto by the president and therefore requiring a two-thirds majority in both houses to be effective.

The founders counted on institutional pride to bulwark the checks and balances supplied in the Constitution. I’m not sure they counted on institutional irrelevance, but that’s where we have arrived today.